Good Toys, Bad Toys

How Safety, Society, Politics and Fashion Have Reshaped Children’s Playthings


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About the Book

In early America, most children had only a few toys and parents received advice from family and friends on the best ways to make and use toys. By the early 1900s the Industrial Revolution was producing a new world of toys and giving more parents the wealth to buy them. Mass media also sang the praises of these new factory-made, store-bought toys, but that began to change as early as the mid–1900s when the mass media was used to inform parents of the many dangers of children’s toys. Many encourage violence, sexism, racism, and some are actually unsafe and unhealthy. The development of children’s toys from early America to the present time and the shifting opinions of them expressed by parents and the mass media throughout this time are the main subjects of this book. The first section discusses the many problems with toys, while the second puts these problems in historical perspective. How have these problems changed, and are still changing today? Might today’s toys be about to enter a time when they will be better than ever? The third section argues that many media toy watchers are biased toward the negative, giving toys more of a black eye than they deserve, and considers the challenges that face today’s parents as they try to choose the best toys for their children.

About the Author(s)

Andrew McClary is professor emeritus at Michigan State University where he taught in the College of General Education. He lives in East Lansing.

Bibliographic Details

Andrew McClary

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 211
Bibliographic Info: 65 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2004
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1837-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0968-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Preface      1

I. Troubled Toys
1. The Changing World of Toys      5
2. Toy Weapons      7
3. Fashion Dolls and Action Figures      28
4. Toys That Come Alive      43
5. Toys That Teach      58
6. Hazardous Toys      76
7. Racist Toys      93
8. Gender Toys      106

II. Toys Past, Present, and Future
9. Toys of the World We Have Lost      127
10. The Commercialization of Toys      148
11. The John Burroughs Toy      166

III. Afterthoughts
12. The Special Problem of Media Bias      173
13. The Plight of the Parent      177

Chapter Notes      181
Selected Bibliography      193
Index      197